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Celebrating Community Engagement

by Ryan Loughrey

The last week of school brings about the –ings: cramming for finals, planning for the summer, and tanning to get rid of the pale whiteness that had come with winter.

 

However, there also occurred an event that, it could be argued, is even more important than having the proper bronze skin tone.

 

It was the event to celebrate community engagement, to step back from all the hectic aspects of finals, and recognize the members of the community that took an active role in shaping the world they live in.

 

“The best way most of us learn is by getting out into the world and doing” said Heather Wylie, who is not only a sociology instructor as well as a Coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement. Not only are the students gaining valuable work and leadership experience, and networking, but “leaving the community a better place than when [they] found it.”

 

The event began by shows of generosity: a meal provided by Denise Axtell and the Shasta College Food Services, as well as a musical performance by Dr. Waterbury’s Jazz Choir. The choir was dressed immaculately, with singing to match. The highlight was an acapella version of “Ceiling Can’t Hold Us” arranged and interpreted by Shasta College’s own Adam Gilbert.

 

After dinner had been consumed, the event proceeded. It highlighted the accomplishment of numerous students, each going out with a singular goal, and now sharing it with the rest of the group. They were all worthy and admirable, however here are some of the highlights:

 

Two students banded together and worked at Rother Elementary School, actively engaging with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Anti-bullying sentiment had already been instilled into the youths’ minds, but they really had trouble recognizing it. So the Shasta College students designed boxes for the kids to put in anonymous notes about bullies, and then were better able to realize just how bullying could manifest itself.

 

One student, Scarlett, ventured to North Woods Discovery Charter School, and was the architect behind a school beautifying project. She, along with many middle school students, figuratively rolled up their sleeves and helped with many needs. It also helped to break down the stereotype that some college kids can have about middle schoolers- viewing them as angst-filled and rebellious. Scarlett mentioned that her favorite part was “making a connection with the students.”

 

Sitting on boards and committees doesn’t always sound rewarding, but for some students it definitely was. Students helped to plan the city’s Whole Earth and Watershed Festival, became active members of Shasta Shasta County Citizens Advocating Respect (SCCAR), and even the Violence Prevention Council. Another student even worked to clear misconceptions about cancer, organized a jog-a-thon, and ended up raising $300 to go towards cancer research.

 

Sometimes, it is easy to see all the negative aspects of life in the news. It is easy to get stressed with other people, poor drivers, rude customers, or any other people we may interact with. Events like these help us to remember that there is a lot of good being done in the world, even as local as here in Shasta County.

 

Three girls worked at the Anderson Teen Center, which works hard to keep teenagers safe and make them feel connected. “These projects are not about checking things off of a list,” one spoke, “but about making connections and differences with the people around you.”

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